Today's blog is a two-part blog. Please read my comments below, and then read the entry below about the "Indy's Child" magazine, and how they have devastated my friend, Jan's family.
As you read the comments below, keep in mind that the author of the story in Indy's Child chose to end her article with this sentence:
"I was fortunate. My daughter was born May 12, and shows no signs of Down syndrome. That's reassuring."
I was fortunate. My daughter was born March 23, 1997, with the light of a glorious full moon shining through the window – screaming and alive, and breathtakingly beautiful.
One look at her revealed what I already knew – that she had Trisomy 21 – Down syndrome. She was breathtaking – blessed with beautifully almond shaped eyes, a cute little button nose, and that characteristic space between her big toe and the next that proudly proclaimed to the world, “I have Down syndrome.”
I was fortunate. Despite all the predictions of many doctors, she was destined to survive those first days of her life, requiring almost immediate surgery to correct a birth defect not associated with Down syndrome.
I was fortunate. The medical community that predicted her death, and in fact, encouraged her death during my pregnancy, was able to save her life. Their technology and scientific knowledge, along with the Grace of God, allowed my baby to live.
I was fortunate. Not because her unrelated birth defect led me to prenatal testing that allowed me to know ahead of time that she would have Down syndrome, but because I was able to take that knowledge and learn what I needed to know and understand in order to love my child unconditionally.
I AM fortunate. I know that this parenting business we subscribe to comes with no guarantees. I know that no amount of prenatal testing will predict my child’s future –- because a single moment in time can change a world forever. There is no way to test for the more than 8,000 known genetic conditions that a child could be born with.
I AM fortunate. I understand that no prenatal test will tell me that my child will be a good person or a kind soul. No test will tell me her occupation, or destiny in life. I will not know how healthy or happy she will or will not be.
I AM fortunate. I have come to understand that even a prenatal test for Down syndrome will not give me these answers. A karaotype will not tell me my child’s personality or her abilities as she gets older. It will not tell me what she will look like, or the color of her eyes, or what her voice will sound like. It will not tell me what her favorite food will be, or what makes her laugh out loud, or when she would take her first step or say her first word or that she would love swimming and horses as much as she does. It will not tell me how sweet it feels to have her come and sit with me, and wrap her arms around my neck, and fill my heart with joy.
I AM fortunate. Because I understand that all that prenatal test told me was that my child would have more chromosomes than most.
I am Blessed. I chose to continue my pregnancy, armed with the knowledge that my child had Down syndrome, and ready to love her with my whole heart and soul. And that was so, so easy to do.
I am Blessed. Because my prenatal testing choice will never launch me into the world of “what if” and “I wonder” I will not mourn her projected birth date – instead, I will eat cake and ice cream and turn the music up really loud and DANCE.
I am Blessed. I will never wonder “what if” I had chosen to give birth to her. Would she be pretty or smart, or short or tall or funny or serious. I get to know.
I am Blessed. I don’t have to wonder if those milestones come or not. I get to watch them happen. I have come to learn that it doesn’t even matter all that much when or even if all of those milestones come along. Because my love for my child goes far beyond the expectations of achievement.
I am Blessed. I don’t have to see a child with Down syndrome in a store and ache for a baby who’s life I chose to end. Instead, I can giggle a little giggle, because I get to know. I get to know how it feels to have a child with Down syndrome, full of life, beautiful, cherished, and very, very wanted.
I am Blessed. I have learned that my child is my greatest teacher, and I am a very willing student.
"I was fortunate. My daughter was born March 23, 1997 and showed signs of Down syndrome. That's one of my greatest blessings."